Monday, June 13, 2011

Officially Beer Blogger 1,000

And here I thought it would be great to have another beer blogger on the web. Well, at least I'm number 1,000 and not 5,000! Thanks for the shout out.

Here's the post:

European and North American Beer Blogging Compared
Blogging in general and beer blogging in specific is much bigger in North American than in the rest of the world. Our current Complete List of Beer Blogs shows 684 “citizen” beer blogs in North America as compared to 315 in the rest of the world. See today’s Press Release on “999 Bloggers of Beer on the Web“. (Update: We just hit 1000 and are still growing. Congrats to homebrewer and blogger Manic Organik for being blog 1000.)
The largest concentration of beer bloggers outside North America is in the UK, which has 126, a reasonable number given the different population sizes. In addition, there are at least 57 non-blogger beer writers in the UK, likely more than in North America.

Beer blogging is also more advanced in North America. We found fewer laptops being used, fewer people on Twitter, and fewer who knew the meaning of SEO (search engine optimization) at the European Beer Bloggers Conference just completed. It also appeared there is less ongoing interaction between bloggers and breweries and fewer attempts by European bloggers to create their own “brand” they can use to go beyond blogging, two trends important in North America. But I found the European bloggers to be quite professional, highly dedicated, and interested in learning. They will catch up very fast.

(Two side notes. 1) We have also found from running the Wine Bloggers Conference and International Food Bloggers Conference that wine bloggers and food bloggers tend to be more along that technical curve than beer bloggers, when looking at North America. 2) All bloggers need to decide why they do what they do and if they are not interested in more hits, better SEO, better connections with breweries, etc, than they need not be concerned with all of this.)

Also interesting is there is more interaction among bloggers in different U.S. states than there is between beer bloggers in various European countries. European bloggers are not following blogs – even in their own language – outside their own country, although there does seem to be good cross-fertilization between the U.K. and the U.S. Of course, the language barrier does keep many bloggers from reading other blogs but Google Translate is a pretty good tool and I would not hesitate to leave a comment in English on a blog post you have translated and read in another language.

All this actually makes our conference in Europe that much more exciting. European beer blogging is new, it is growing, and it has tremendous upside. In fact, were I to characterize European beer blogging in one word it would be potential. European beer bloggers have the potential to increase their readers (via better websites and better SEO), to have a great influence on breweries (through more interaction), and ultimately to be able to change the entire producing and consuming beer scene in Europe (by coming together as a more cohesive community).

It is the beer scene in Europe that makes beer blogging there especially rewarding. I remember back in the 1980s how, for the most part, European beer seemed to be much ahead of beer in North America. The craft brewing revolution changed all that and now we in the US have an amazing variety of good, flavorful beers available most everywhere. The large breweries are paying attention and are starting to produce their own craft beers or to buy into existing craft breweries, which only supports the movement.

From my week in London interacting with bloggers and breweries, I would say this same revolution is just beginning in Europe. A brewery like BrewDog has a fantastic PR approach but, ultimately, their success is due to brewing good quality, flavorful, bottled beers. Other breweries are just starting to do the same and I predict 40 BrewDog-like success stories to come out of Europe in the next eight years. And large breweries are paying closer attention sooner in Europe, since they have the US model to follow and know what is coming.

It is that attention that made the European Beer Bloggers Conference the most fantastic conference I have organized, over three years of running blogger conferences. The sponsors were amazingly supportive of the conference. They fully recognize bloggers are key “influencers” who will have an effect in reaching out to the public. They want to help their local beer bloggers grow and thrive. Even mega brewers like MolsonCoors are avid supporters of the concept of beer blogging and did not try to impose their will on the conference but, instead, were happy to provide their best beers, interact, and let the bloggers make their own decision.

The level of brewery support, large and small, went well beyond any support we received from the North American BBC this past November, I think in part because many craft breweries in the US are simply selling their beer as fast as they can produce it and don’t need another marketing outlet. On the other hand, North American breweries seem to be better at putting bloggers on their press list, inviting them to dinners, and telling them about special beer releases. Both geographies could learn – European breweries could reach out more to bloggers on a regular basis and North American breweries could realize that Citizen Beer Bloggers, who spend their own time and money doing what they do, could use support to make sure the beer blogging community thrives.

In short, it is exciting on both sides of the pond and I would love to learn more about beer blogging in Australia/New Zealand, Asia, South America, or Latin America!

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